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What not to fix when selling a house

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Is it worth renovating before selling? Most of the time, yes, but not all upgrades deserve your time and money. Often, simple repairs or maintenance are enough to entice buyers through the door and boost your sale price.

What NOT to fix when selling a house 

As a seller, you want to spend money on fixes that have good return on investment. Unnecessary home repairs are expensive and are unlikely to add value – in some cases, they could put buyers off. These include:   

Minor cosmetic issues 

Most buyers are looking for a home that’s ready to live in. If your property is clean and in overall good condition, buyers may overlook a small scratch on the floor or an old-fashioned tap. Replacing fixtures in good working order because of minor flaws is unlikely to significantly impact your sale price. On the other hand, fixing damage like a broken light fitting or door handle will enhance your home’s liveability and is more likely to pay for itself.   

Similarly, while you may think something is drab or unfashionable, it can be better to let buyers decide. If your walls are neutral and in good condition, repainting in this season’s colours could backfire if buyers don’t like it – a good clean to remove surface stains is a cheaper alternative for refreshed walls. The same goes for carpeting – instead of replacing undamaged carpets, invest in a professional deep clean.

Outdated or personalised features 

Kitchens and bathrooms frequently top the list of what to fix when selling a house, but before launching into major renovations, consider if they really need fixing. As these rooms often succumb to fleeting trends, it’s easy to worry your outdated cabinets will turn buyers off. Generally, buyers are more likely to notice problems – like leaking toilets or broken appliances. Instead of spending on the latest look, present a functional, well-maintained home.

Low cost upgrades with limited ROI

To see a return on your investment, a job must be done properly. Trying to keep costs down with patch jobs or partial upgrades may seem a quick fix, but only replacing the bench tops in an outmoded kitchen, for example, won’t add value to your home. At worst, unfinished jobs can highlight work needing to be done or suggest you’re trying to hide something. To avoid unnecessary expense, ask your agent what improvements may yield the best return and focus on those.

Major structural repairs 

Selling a house with defects isn’t as impossible as it sounds. While environmental or safety hazards (e.g., leaks, electrical problems) should be addressed, major structural repairs can be very costly and time consuming. It could potentially be better to leave the house as is and reflect its condition in the sale price – some buyers may favour a lower price and the opportunity to renovate to their liking. For any concerns about structure, seek the advice of an experienced agent who can help weigh up if it’s worth renovating before selling. They’ll also advise what needs to be repaired before you can sell. 

What to fix when selling a house 

Forgoing major upgrades, it’s vital to present your home at its best to attract buyers. Simple, cost-effective fixes are often enough to help achieve your asking price, including:

Leaky faucets

Buyers will notice potential ongoing expenses – leaky taps are a particular stand out. Leaking taps could be seen as a sign of plumbing issues, so be sure to fix any drips.   

Damaged flooring 

Floors are one of the first things buyers see when entering a house, so they should be in great condition. Sanding and polishing a worn wooden floor or replacing stained carpets can enhance your home’s overall appeal. If your carpet has floorboards underneath, ripping it out and polishing the boards is an effective, low-cost update.

Curb appeal 

You want your home to make a great first impression – if buyers don’t like the outside, they may not bother seeing inside. You can make your home more inviting by fixing anything rundown, like faded house numbers, a rusty letterbox or a front door in need of a paint job. Pressure washing is a quick and cheap way to refresh the exterior of your house – it also pays to repair any damaged windows, fly screens or gutters.

Cleaning and Decluttering

When buyers view your property, they need to be able to imagine themselves living in it. It helps to present your home as a blank canvas by cleaning, decluttering and removing any items that could be a distraction:

  • Clear surfaces of papers, ornaments and bench top appliances.
  • Remove family photographs.
  • Take any magnets off the fridge and wipe it down.
  • Empty wardrobes and drawers of at least 50% of their contents.
  • Give every room a thorough clean including shelves, cupboard doors, floors and windows.

It’s also a good idea to remove anything taking up room like bookcases, occasional furniture or extra seating – this can help make the space look bigger.


A neglected garden can lower a property’s value, but this doesn’t mean going overboard with landscaping. Basic maintenance like mowing, pruning and a general tidy-up can have a big impact and is much more cost effective than redesigning or putting in new plants.  

Disclosing problems before selling your house

When it comes to what you should or should not disclose when selling your home, it’s best to speak to an experienced agent. In most states, the law requires you to give potential buyers specific details upfront so they can make an informed decision about buying. If you don’t, you run the risk of legal issues and costly fines down the track. Your agent will advise what you need to disclose about your property – this will likely include any property defects like structural problems, insect infestations, damp and broken fixtures or appliances. 

At the same time, buyers should be diligent – not discover the problems with a house after they purchase it. So, while you aren’t legally obliged to disclose raucous neighbours, you must be honest if the question comes up. Agents are experts at navigating any tricky questions about your property and can advise exactly how much to share with buyers. Our smartsearch tool can help find the right agent for you.

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